Time Lapse Plants

After posting a blog almost every day for seven and a half years, there are topics that got lost. And some that should have gotten lost but still haunt me. And with more than 2,200 posts, I stumble across old ones every now and then.

In November, 2007, I moved to Phoenix. The following May, I flew back to D.C. for 10 days, leaving my new life–and plants–untended. This was a post from that time:

One of the things I enjoy is watch plants work busily on keeping the line going. After reading Barbara Kingsolver’s incredible book that affirms that we are what we eat, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, I became even more interested in how plant life in the desert protects and keeps itself going.

sproutSometimes the seed pod would trigger on my drawing table. When that happened, I’d carefully gather the seeds and put them in a vacant lot to try for another generation. One day I came across a stray seed from some plant while I wasn’t on my way out the door. Looking at the tiny potential plant, I didn’t have the heart to throw it in the trash. I absently stuck it in my potted plant.

Neither had much of a chance. A friend gave me the plant, thinking I had a window in my apartment. The window is there, but it faces North, so it doesn’t get direct light. To make it worse, I live on a well-traveled sidewalk section of my complex, so for privacy’s sake, I keep the blinds drawn when I’m out or not in the mood to be on public display.

I stick the plant outside my door every night, and bring it in after my morning walk, assuring it a little early morning sun. It has to make do with that. It’s a dracena, so a little light goes a long way.

After being gone for 10 days, I came back to find the potted plant dried to the core. And leaning toward the closed blinds searching for a bit of light. I watered it and was plunking it outside for a bit of shaded light, when I noticed the sprout.

It doesn’t look like the rest of the plant. It looks like a long blade of thick grass. You can see it in the center of the picture–the green part that doesn’t look like the rest.

Remembering the seed, I began to plow my memory for what, exactly, I’d stuck into that pot. I can’t remember. It could be an aloe, or a tamarind. If it grows fast, I’ll have to add another pot to my plant-hostile apartment. Or just let them slug it out and see what happens. The one thing I did not think would happen was that a desert plant would find a pot that gets occasional watering and almost no light the right place to sprout. Maybe it was taking a chance. Let’s see what happens as it gets bigger. It may have been a worthwhile chance.

* * *
That was seven years ago. I thought you might want to see what happened to that tiny blade of brave new plant. It turned out to be a dragon tree, and it’s been growing in my back yard since I moved into the house. The dracena? It didn’t make it. You have to be tough to survive in the desert.


On the other hand, once you adapt to the desert, you can thrive. Adapting is the first step in thriving.

-Quinn McDonald thrives in the Sonoran Desert. She carries around a black basalt rock from the desert to remind her that the desert was once an ocean and different things lived there then.


4 thoughts on “Time Lapse Plants

  1. “Adapting is the first step in thriving.” I feel the urge to make an art journal page using this sentence on it… I also feel like a dragon plant sometimes… staying alive and growing… thanks for triggering these thoughts with your blogpost, I face the day with a smile now! Enjoy your weekend beautiful one!

    • That dragon plant is the most beat-up plant I’ve ever had–and it’s thriving. It’s been transplanted twice, had its environment changed when the trees were thinned and trimmed, and it’s still thriving. It teaches me something every day!

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